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March, 2009 | Chasing Men Who Stare at Arrays

Monthly Archive for March, 2009

Welcome

On February 26, 2009 I sent out posts on LinkedIn and Facebook declaring my intention to make a documentary film about the History of APL.

The response to these posts has been overwhelmingly positive and the feedback I am receiving is invaluable.  So, today, I am making it official.  I’m starting.

Catherine Lathwell

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Contribute

I’m doing research which will eventually lead to a documentary film on the history of APL.  Does this interest you?  Why?

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The Script

Today I  started working on the script.   I am thinking about what I understand to be true and what I remember as both a child and as an adult.  The machine room in Yorktown Heights, with a computer as big as a house.  Was it really as big as a house?

I am thinking about the interdependence between the physical network and the human network.  How did APL travel so far and so fast?

In Canada we talk a lot about “brain drain”.  How our best minds get drawn to the United States because there is more support for their work down there.  The flip side of  brain drain, is that when we go, we become world citizens  de facto.

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Who said APL is d**d?

I’m getting emails from around the world assuring me this is not the case.   Why is this Canadian born invention thriving everywhere else but here?

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Tuesdays & Other Notes

I am now spending Tuesdays with a client.  I am giving them some technical helps and soaking in everything I can about the film and television industry.  I feel very lucky, they are great folks.

I’m planning a trip to Palo Alto in May.  Joey Tuttle is helping me organise seeing people.  I’m very excited.  I haven’t seen Larry Breed since I was 6 or 7 years old. It’s been a long time since I have seen Jim Brown as well.

Morten & Gitte have given me permission to speak at their Dyalog Conference in September,  which will be held in Princeton NJ  from September 13th to 16th 2009.

America, here I come!

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I need some help

I am working on the articles of incorporation for the film.  I need someone to help me by reading draft articles of incorporation & some financial planning.  Someone with accounting and/or legal experience would be an excellent help.

Very soon I am going to need a fundraising committee.  I have a plan & need some help putting it into action.  Please let me know if you can help in this area.  I need outgoing people to help “pass the hat”.

Actually – I should add here that I’m exploring many different financing options.    Only some of which involve “passing the hat”.

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More on the Script

In 1960, a Canadian from a small farm near Camrose Alberta, Ken Iverson, joined IBM armed with his PhD thesis from Harvard which outlined a math based computer language. In collaboration with Adin Falkoff, a veteran at IBM, he hand picked a team, and moved them and their families to Yorktown Heights, New York. They then put the theory of his dissertation into practice and went on to influence the course of computer history. The language became known as APL.

The original six, rumoured to be either left-handed or Canadian, included three Canadians who created the world’s first interactive computer programming language.

Of this team were three young men, Larry Breed (American), Richard Lathwell (Canadian) & Roger Moore (Canadian) who won the prestigious Grace Hopper Award for young computer professionals under the age of 35 in 1973 for their contributions. Ken Iverson himself, won the most prestigious technical award granted by the Association for Computing Machinery in 1979.

The bonds formed between this crew of 1960’s & 1970’s innovators and their families have survived over 40 years. These bonds, in fact, have extended to include to three generations. And the close knit community, with its quirky inside mathematics jokes about “nothing”, still exists today.

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What is APLs Contribution to Science?

I’m working on my paragraph…. Send me yours!

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